Sunday, January 12, 2014

Writing With Special Colors

The other day, my wife and I went out to one of the great Sierra beauty spots on a winter day when the sun was bright, the wind calm, and the temp in the shade hit 53. She set up her easel and palette, and I parked my butt on a folding chair and turned on my laptop.
By the end of the day, she had a fabulous painting of the snowy mountains and I had a scene of dialogue.
Back home, she set her painted panel on a stand and showed me some little dabs of color that she'd put in the scene, colors that she said weren't actually in the landscape but were necessary to make the scene seem real.
It made me think of my written dialogue, which had word choices that aren't exactly the way people talk. I told her about it and how I put in wording that might not actually be there in real conversation but was necessary to make the scene seem real.
It's amazing how often this happens with us, similarities between painting and writing.
Dialogue is unusual in that you can't actually write what people say. If you did, readers wouldn't tolerate it. “Whassup, dude?” “I'm like totally bummed... you know, that bro was getting on my case, so I thought, man, jus' don't smoke that stuff. Like, you know, jus' don't smoke it.” “Right on, dude. You tol' him. Right on.” Yikes.
To make dialogue work, a writer has to take out most of the dialect and vernacular and add some dabs of color that might not exist in the real world.

Considering how often painting and writing are similar, I wonder if the same applies to music, theater, sculpture, photography, dance, and the other arts.


  1. Cant wait for your next book!!!! Keep writing!!!!

    1. Thanks! I'm busy finishing up the next one. It should be out this August!